European Security, the Problematic of the Unitary State and the Paradox of Brexit.

Anna Maria Friis Kristensen

Traditionally, studies of the EU in international security, the research focus has been on the EU's agency, power, and on whether it is developing into a state-like entity. At the same time, the discipline has assumed that the state concept itself when applied to the member states is rather uncomplicated, that EU member states, formally the main actors in the field of security and defence, are unitary, coherent and unproblematic actors. This paper suggests that we need to reject the idea of states as unitary entities with clear and consistent interests and identities. Instead, we must disaggregate the member states' politics, discourses and identities to uncover the contradictory discourses and political struggles that continuously (re)produce states' security identity. A case in point is Britain's changing and seemingly paradoxical stance to the Common European security and defence Policy CSDP over the last decades, and post-Brexit referendum. To understand Britain's changes in attitude to the CSDP from antagonistic, to driving-force in the late 1990s, to an absent actor, we need to look at the political discourse and power constellations within the state, and the historical identities and investigate the use of national memories and narratives in British debate. This paper will look at how different understandings and discourses of the past underpin the political parties' interpretation of the Britain's present role in relation to Europe and international security. It will focus on concepts such as power, sovereignty, and independence, to understand the often contradictory discourses that made Brexit possible.

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